Drought cost Turkey YTL 5 billion in 2006
A recent report by the Turkish Union of Agricultural Chambers (TZOB) stresses that Turkey must take urgent action to address the water-shortage issue if it is to avoid the routine importation of basic agricultural goods -- including wheat, cotton and othe
According to the report, based on compilations from 720 local agricultural chambers in Turkey, the cost of the drought reached YTL 5 billion last year alone. The report indicates that growers suffered from substantial loss in the harvests of fruits and vegetables. According to the report, the central Anatolian region suffered the most, accounting for 41.7 percent of the YTL 5 billion total, followed by the Aegean region (27 percent), the Marmara region (15 percent) and the Mediterranean region (14 percent).
The report notes that the best way to introduce effective measures to deal with the growing drought issue is to invoke the law on financial aid to farmers who suffer due to natural disasters. The report further underlines that drought should be included within state-sponsored agricultural insurance.
Speaking to Today's Zaman, TZOB President Şemsi Bayraktar noted that Turkey had serious structural problems and deficits with regard to agriculture and drought, further stressing that they expected the government to work in harmony with civil society actors. Recalling that irrigation investments should be completed immediately to fight drought, Bayraktar said irrigation of the Aydın, Konya and Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP) regions should be given priority. Bayraktar, known for his opposition to importation of agricultural products, noted that though imports were now necessary, the transactions should still be carefully balanced.
In addition to the Law on Combating Agricultural Drought, promulgated on Aug. 7, 2007, the government plans to take effective and comprehensive measures to address the issue. Combating drought is one of the most imminent issues on the agenda of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. It is reported that shortly after the new government is formed a commission will be appointed by Parliament to prepare works on the drought issue. The new government will also grant substantial financial support to farmers who make irrigation investments.
The Justice and Development (AK Party) government plans to focus on dam and drip irrigation methods and will provide funding for 75 percent of the cost irrigation investments. In a statement to Today's Zaman, AK Party deputy Ahmet Ertürk noted that more funds will be reserved in the state budget for the drought issue in the new era. Ertürk said: "We will be working on the resolution of structural problems. We will prioritize drip irrigation and develop projects to ensure effective use of water."
Noting that Erdoğan attaches great importance to the drought issue, Ertürk said the prime minister might establish a special team to prepare detailed studies on this particular matter.
Also speaking to Today's Zaman, AK Party deputy Mehmet Erdem noted that they were aware of the farmers' problems and stressed that the existing problem had been exacerbated by this year's severe drought. In reference to the efforts in his electoral district, Aydın, Erdem stressed that the government had opted to develop regional resolutions.
Today's Zaman Last Mod: 10 Ağustos 2007, 13:06